The Lost and Found film series is a monthly event held at the Ridgefield Playhouse in Ridgefield, CT. However, the Ridgefield Playhouse Film Society admits that there are certain months that will pass by without a screening. Why? This event is a very low key, yet high profile event. After a selected film screens the writers or directors will talk about their films to the audience and stay for a Q. and A. session. So, from time to time, they may take a month off to ensure that when they do host an event, it will not dissapoint.
I attended the Lost and Found film series for the first time on Friday, May 13th to see the writer/director Richard LaGravenese present his film "Living Out Loud". Perhaps you may recognize Mr. LaGravenese as the writer of such films as "The Fisher King", "The Horse Whisperer", and "The Bridges of Madison County".
"Movies are a directors medium." - Richard LaGravenese
"Living Out Loud" portrays the emotional reconstruction of two temporarily wayward souls, or as the event flyer described. Starring Holly Hunter, Danny DeVito, and Queen Latifah.
Knowing actually very little about the film or the event, I was excited to go and check it out. I never miss that chance to see a free movie or to meet successful industry folks.
The evening began with an introduction by award-winning network television journalists Ira Joe Fisher of CBS and Morton Dean of CBS and ABC. Then the lights went down and the movie began.
I think that people react differently to a film when they know that the writer/director is in the audience. They tend to laugh a littler harder, get more emotional during a tense scene. In other words, they pay attention. Or, it could just be that people that go to a film event are just really into films. I put myself in both categories.
You want to go to a film event like this to try and learn something new. I wanted to go to hear straight from the Director what is was like to direct his first film. I wanted to learn about his process; his learning curve. What challenge presented itself in directing ones own words.
MY NOTES FROM THE QUESTION AND ANSWER SESSION:
Mr. LaGravenese was asked about how he started to pursue a career in the movies. He wasn't an athlete. He discovered theater in school. He started acting a bit. For a time he was even in a sketch comedy team.
"Every actor does scenes. I started writing my own scenes and sold some to other actors.
I had planned on writing "The Fisher King" as a sample. My wife supported me for 3 years while I wrote it. She said there is something here and encouraged me to keep writing it. So my wife got me into it. I couldn't have done it without her support."
Although Mr. Lagravenese was born in Bay Ridge, Brooklyn, he is currently a part time resident of Ridgefield.
"Living Out Loud" is a movie that is set in New York City. However, only 5 days were actually shot in New York. For the most part is was all shot in L.A. "At the time it was very expensive to shoot in NY, now its much better." Mr. LaGravenese reffering to the Fall of 1998.
Mr. LaGravenese then explained about the release of his movie.
"September to January there were 150 movies released. And the marketing director responsible for my film had never released a major motion picture like this before. That same weekend he released Pleasentville, American History X, and my film Living Out Loud."
"Also, everyone kept pushing their film releases back in anticipation of Meet Joe Black. That was supposed to be the years big film, and everyone was afraid of it."
Being a professional writer first, his experience as a director confirmed that "Film is a directors medium."
“are you sure your asking me?” was a common thought that passed through his mind now that he would have creative directorial control. Queen Latifah really earns her title of Queen. "She was so great to work with. And before this movie, she didn't really know that she could singe that kind of music.", referring to the American Popular Standards that she sings in the nightclub throughout the film. And Queen Latifah recently released a CD of those types of songs.
He is a graduate of NYU. He credits NYU for helping to further his crative talent in flim.
Mr. LaGravenese was asked about his abilty to write the conversations of woman so well. "My mother was 1 of 8 and she she had three sisters. She would go over to a sisters house for coffee when I was a little kid. I would hide under the table and listen to them talk about men. That's really where it comes from."
On being a first time directed he commented, "I surrounded myself with good people. I was fortunate to have a great DP (Director Photography) but I always felt the sense of responsibility I had as the director." He further explained that when you are only writing for someone else to direct, you have a vision in your head as you write the text but ultimatley the decision falls on the director when it's time to shoot.
Quietly he announced that he there are plans to write a play. And, not a musical, just a "straight play".
The Lost and Found film series runs almost every month at the Ridgefield Playhouse in Ridgefield, CT.
At the end of the question and answer session, the highly respected and admired actor Giancarlo Esposito presented Richard LaGravenese a thank you plaque. I have been a huge fan of Mr. Esposito for years ever since his portrayal as the undercover reporter in "Bob Roberts".
Great event, high quality, highly recomended.